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There's a decent amount of discussion about Bren and SPEA on this board, but the EER program isn't as popular so I'm hoping anyone who knows anything about it can comment. I'm interested in renewable energy and energy policy, particularly I want to support and implement wind, solar, or smaller-scale clean programs. I have a background in science and research but recently switched fields so I don't have any applicable undergraduate coursework or professional training in energy or policy, so I will greatly value each program's course offerings. My primary goal is to get a job afterwards, ideally in (federal) government or maybe the private sector, so employment prospects and professional training will be one of (if not) the most important factors, alongside cost.

UT — The program only requires 30 credits, 6 of which are for the thesis. I can choose the "Policy and Law" module, but I worry that 24 credits/8 classes really isn't that much graduate coursework and learning, especially since I've got some catching up to do. Their course descriptions are also pretty vague so while they have classes like "Energy Technology and Policy," "Energy Law," and an "Energy Symposium," I wonder how much renewable energy (more along the lines of wind and solar than geothermal) opportunities they have since the Jackson School specializes in oil and gas and geology. Also while there are a few faculty members with research similar to my interests, I feel like a thesis would be the least beneficial use of my time compared to other graduation requirements like a capstone project since I will not be continuing in academia. Generally, I worry that this program might be too research-focused for my career-oriented goals. That might be offset though if the course load is relatively light and there are relevant work or intern opportunities in Austin during the school year. No word on funding yet, but so far it is the cheapest ($36k/year). Also, name recognition among employers in energy will be a huge plus (I'm interested in renewables, but if an opportunity arises in O&G... just saying). Austin is my personal top location pick.

UCSB — Their program overall seems the best fit in terms of coursework and professional opportunities and training/career services/networking/etc. I've never had the quarter system so I don't know how I'll like it. Their course load seems a lot busier, so I don't imagine I'd be able to work or intern during the school year (I know it's basically required to intern during the summer though). They seem to heavily stress group work and collaboration. I'm not sure if they're just referring to the master's group project/Eco or if they mean practically every class, but I tend to prefer solo work. I didn't get any funding, which makes its ~$50k price tag tied with IUB for the most expensive. 

IUB — It would seem their program is on par with Bren's (but perhaps with more of an emphasis on policy than science): similar course offerings and a group capstone project at the end. Though I imagine their career services and job placement isn't as strong as Bren's. It's a 2.5 year program so two summers' worth of potential internships is nice, but getting out and getting a full-time job is even nicer. I haven't head back yet about funding. If I don't get any, by the end of 2.5 years both IUB and UCSB will be a bit north of $100k. Overall IUB isn't as well known as UT or UCSB, but SPEA is highly ranked and it seems like a lot of people are very impressed when they visit.

I plan on visiting each school and should hear back about funding around March/April, so both will have a big influence on my decision. 

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For a career in energy policy analysis, I think Indiana and UT (if I switch to the dual degree with MPAff and EER) would be my best bets. Although I'm not sure how an MEM with a focus in policy looks compared to a dual degree in public affairs science/energy. And I still feel like Bren is more effective at helping graduates get jobs.

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Hey there Windmills! I think we have slightly different focus areas and I don't know anything about the UT EER program, but I applied to the Bren program and thought about applying to IU SPEA. I've been in environmental policy for the most part and looking to bolster my science background a bit more, so Bren was a nice fit for me. 

When I hear about environmental management degrees, I think the "Big Four" that come to mind are Yale FES, Duke Nicholas, U Michigan SNRE, and UCSB Bren. For policy focus, I know IU tends to be added to the top of that list. I opted not to apply only because I wasn't looking for a policy degree and I grew up in that part of the country and wasn't particularly eager to return. (I should clarify though--everyone I know who has attended IU for grad or undergrad falls in love with Bloomington and absolutely raves about it). 

As far as costs go, have you factored in that you are likely to get California residency in your second year at Bren? I think they calculate the total cost of the degree using that assumption, but it knocks ~$15k off the cost of your second year.


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